Perhaps the final verdict for the crimes of Nazism. The court sentenced the former secretary

This may be the last trial in Germany for Nazi crimes. But it has “immense historical importance,” as state representative Maxi Wantzen noted in one of the state’s cases.

A 97-year-old former secretary of the Stutthof concentration camp in present-day Poland was found guilty Tuesday of participating in the killing of more than 10,000 people. The court gave him a suspended sentence of two years – the highest possible sanction, which was also requested by the prosecution.

The guilt of this nursing home resident from Quickborn in northern Germany was assessed – perhaps somewhat paradoxically – by a juvenile court. That’s because Irmgard Furchner was only 18 years old when he started working as a secretary at Stutthof.

From June 1, 1943 to April 1, 1945, the German girl’s workplace was a typewriter in a concentration camp near Gdansk, where 65,000 prisoners died, from Jews to Polish partisans to Soviet prisoners of war. It was there that the notorious camp commander Obersturmbannführer SS Paul-Werner Hoppe dictated his death sentence.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Furchnerová aided the systematic killing of prisoners in Stutthof with her work. Thus, the lex Demjanjuk, a German legal breakthrough from the beginning of the 21st century, applied to pensioners, allowing the prosecution of all members of the Nazi murderous conspiracy of the Second World War, i.e. even accomplices who are almost irrelevant at first glance.

Nazi death site in Poland today

Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany operated some 42,000 prisons, ghettos and camp facilities. Among the worst were the concentration extermination camps. One of them is Majdanek in today’s eastern Poland. News List visited the place the fall before last year.

Three times, in 1954, 1964 and 1982, Furchner was questioned by German authorities about his “work” at Stutthof. They always approached him as a witness to the horrors that happened in the concentration camp.

As Holocaust survivor advocate Christoph Rückel told the GDR station, Furchner handled all of the camp commandant’s correspondence. Thus he denied the arguments of the defendant’s attorney, Wolf Molkentin. He told Der Spiegel that his client could have been “shielded” from the Stutthof’s horrors.

According to Der Spiegel, the former secretary wrote to presiding judge Dominik Gross before the start of last year’s trial without the knowledge of his legal representatives. In it, he wrote that he did not understand why he should face a court of law for his work at Stutthof 76 years later.

Furchnerová also requested in writing that she not have to personally participate in court proceedings. But the medical report shows that the defendant is in good health so he can be present in person for up to two hours each day during the trial.

His attempts to avoid trial received worldwide media attention last year. Furchner had to be arrested by the police in order to be present at the meeting. The former secretary took a taxi, went to the subway, and for several hours it was not known where he had disappeared.

At the trial of his former boss Hoppe, who was serving a nine-year sentence in the former West Germany for his crimes, Irmgard Furchner testified years ago that “the documents concerning the poison gas murders did not pass through his hands nor did Hoppe dictate them to him.” According to the secretary, there was talk among the staff of executions in the camp, but they didn’t happen so often that one would get the impression that there were murders in Stutthof every day.

In court, Molkentin’s lawyers operated under the assumption that in the communications that passed through his client’s hands, the Nazi killings of those who were uncomfortable with them were hidden under seemingly innocent words like Sonderbehandlung – “special treatment”.

However, when in 2016 a court in Lüneburg, Germany sentenced former Auschwitz accountant Oskar Gröning to four years in prison, arguing that there was no need to prove what the accused concentration camp employee was doing on any given day. The key is whether the accused, by the nature of their work, helped keep the “killing machine running”.

Since then, several similar decisions have been handed down in Germany. But other prosecutions have been suspended because the alleged perpetrator died or was medically unfit to stand trial.

Julia Craig

"Certified bacon geek. Evil social media fanatic. Music practitioner. Communicator."

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